With winter holidays and the Vodacom Durban July a month away, Durban Tourism has pulled out all the stops in its aggressive campaign to attract domestic tourists from other parts of South Africa, with the branded double-decker Durban ricksha bus having made its way to Soweto’s Vilakazi Street over the weekend.
Not only has the famous street become a strategic business address for restaurants, but the historic home of former president Nelson Mandela has earned it tourist attraction status.
According to Durban Tourism deputy head Winile Mntungwa, the “Visit Durban” campaign, which has seen the bus stopping in Gauteng – later destined for Mpumalanga, Limpopo and the Western Cape – has been “a resounding success”, despite the impact of Covid-19 on tourism.
With numbers of foreign tourists in the country having drastically decreased – foreign arrivals last year dropped by 71% – Durban Tourism has come up with innovative strategies.
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Interviewed on the campaign by The Citizen, outside 88 Beach Soweto Box Shop, where key stakeholders were hosted, Mntungwa was upbeat about spinoffs from Durban’s tourism drive.
“The campaign has a lot of economic spinoffs in terms of business growth – particularly for restaurants in Durban.
“Every weekend you go to culinary hotspots in Durban, you see people who are dining and an influx of cars from other provinces – an indication that the campaign has had a huge impact.
“The greatest impact of the campaign was during this year’s Easter weekend, when we saw lots of people flocking to Durban.
“The campaign was triggered by Covid-19, which has taught us to do things differently in terms of how best to market Durban during the pandemic,” said Mntungwa.
“This is one of the many roadshows, with more lined up within South Africa.
“We have started with Gauteng because the province is the key touch point for us.
“We will then be going to Mpumalanga, Limpopo and Cape Town – part of promoting Durban as a destination as we are heading for winter holidays. We are creating a brand awareness, inviting people to come to Durban because we are on level 1 lockdown.
“For people of South Africa, it is about exploring their country and Durban has a lot to offer – activities and adventures to explore, shopping, aquatics and the beachfront.
“Johannesburg is land-locked and one of the coldest places in the country. Durban is nice and warm.
“Even in winter, Durban is technically in summer. It’s like that all the year round.
“We only have two weeks of winter in Durban, with everything warm – the sea water and the weather.
“Durban is here to warm people up, creating an awareness for people to come and visit, experience, explore and rediscover the city,” said Mntungwa.
“With Covid-19 it has become evident that people are stressed and they want to de-stress by discovering new things.
“Those that have never travelled must come out and visit Durban, where museums, art galleries and the beachfront are all free.”
Mntungwa said winter holidays and the Vodacom Durban July were key to attracting more tourists to the city.
“We are now approaching our key signature event – the Vodacom Durban July. It might not be as big as we are used to, but there is going to be a vibrant July experience in different places,” she said.